Best Linux Multi-Core Compression Tools

Last Updated on May 23, 2022

With Fastest Compression

Most of the tools provide a flag to set the level of compression on a scale from 1 to 9. pxz and plzip and pixz scale from 0 to 9. This test uses the lowest available compression option.

All of the multi-core tools made fairly light work of compressing the tarball with their fastest compression option.

Multi-core compression

If you need to compress large files on a machine with a low powered multi-core machine, the fastest compression might be suitable. pigz compressed the 537MB tarball to 134MB in a whisker under 1.7 seconds. Most of the other tools shaved the tarball to around 100MB, and lrzip compressed the file to a mere 90MB.

Multi-core compression

Next page: Page 4 – Charts with Best Compression

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction
Page 2 – Charts with Default Compression
Page 3 – Charts with Fastest Compression
Page 4 – Charts with Best Compression
Page 5 – lrzip with Different Compression Methods

Methodology used for the tests

We took a 537MB tarball of a popular source package. The tarball was copied to RAM (/dev/shm), and the tests ran in RAM on a quad-core CPU without hyper-threading (Core i5-2500K), with no X server running, and under negligible load.

Each test was run three times with the latest version (at the time of writing) of each multi-core compression tool. The average results are recorded in the charts above. The tests show the relative difference between the multi-core compression tools. They are for indicative purposes only.

Learn more about the features offered by the multi-core compression tool. We’ve compiled a dedicated page for each tool explaining, in detail, the features they offer.

Multi-Core Compression Tools
pigzParallel implementation of gzip. It's a fully functional replacement for gzip
PBZIP2Parallel implementation of the bzip2 block-sorting file compressor
PXZRuns LZMA compression on multiple cores and processors
lbzip2Parallel bzip2 compression utility, suited for serial and parallel processing
plzipMassively parallel (multi-threaded) lossless data compressor based on lzlib
lrzipCompression utility that excels at compressing large files
pixzParallel indexing XZ compression, fully compatible with XZ. LZMA and LZMA2
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Andy Turfer
Andy Turfer
4 years ago

Thank you so much! I’m going to try out some of these.

Michael D
Michael D
2 years ago

Some comparison between them would be very usefull

2 years ago

I did a similar study a few years ago and ended up using pbzip2 as my go-to compression utility.

The main reason is that it can do multi-core de-compression as well, unlike pigz.

The compression algorithm is fairly slow, so it works best when you have 30+ cores to throw at it.

Keep in mind that to use pbzip2 to de-compress with multiple cores, you need to compress with pbzip2 first. It adds some hints to the file to let the decompression know how to split up the work properly.

2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Seems you brought me a solution, thanks !
Do you know if initramfs is using a single threaded kernel bzip2 routine or my /bin/pbzip2 for decompression at runtime ?


2 months ago

Multicore compression : great ! But … all decompressions are done on a SINGLE core ! Why ?
I tried option to select the number of threads but in vain.

Any idea to do multicore decompression ?


One sided Multicore